Millions of people continue to work remotely. Even though it’s been one full year after the start of the global pandemic, many of our routines have stayed the same. While many have adjusted to the new work-from-home (WFH) “normal,” online criminals continue to try and scam people, including remote employees who may have less secure computer systems. Protect yourself with these five ways to fight against online hackers while you WFH.
Keep Things Separate
If you can, try to keep your work and personal life completely separate at home. This would require using a dedicated computer for work, and another for personal matters. Use your personal email for personal emails, online shopping, and financial transactions. Today, it’s common practice for companies to either provide a work laptop, or at least a virtual private network (VPN) to use on your own computer. A VPN establishes a secure and anonymous network over a public connection. This would enable you to keep your work isolated from personal online activities, even though you may actually be doing both on your home computer.
Use a VPN
Speaking of VPNs, it’s a good idea to consider one for your home computer. This is especially important for online transactions, like financial and medical communications. Using a VPN such as ExpressVPN or NordVPN will hide your online activity by encrypting it so that no one else can hack it or read it. It’s especially helpful if you’re working over an unsecured Wi-Fi connection, or if you don’t have up-to-date antivirus software installed.
Approach Every Email With Caution
Many hackers use phishing scams to collect information. This is where the sender asks you to click a link or open an attachment which downloads harmful spyware or malware onto your computer. They do this in hopes of capturing your private information, such as your date of birth, social security number, and online usernames and passwords. Often, these emails appear to be coming from well-known companies. As a rule, avoid opening attachments or clicking on any links, even if they look authentic. Instead, go directly to the company’s website or call if you think the email’s message may have validity.
Update Computer Security Software
To guard against online scammers, it’s important to ensure you have the right software. You’ll need antivirus software and internet protection installed on your home computer. In the past year, criminals have upped their game in attacking WFH employees with harmful malware in order to obtain access to private accounts. Be sure to keep whatever security measures you have on your computer current, and always update them with the latest versions.
Creating strong passwords is another important tool to protect against hackers. Be sure to choose a different password for every account. Use a jumble of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters when creating a password. Always avoid using personal dates like birthdays or anniversaries. It’s also common for companies to ask you to use two-factor authentication to strengthen log-on security. This would include receiving a code over text, in addition to using a password. A company’s IT team could help you set it up for work, while Google also offers an Authenticator app for personal two-step verification on specified accounts.
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